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04-19-03: All Aboard ... for a dream come true
The Daily Standard

    Ruby Pease always stands at her window watching as trains from R.J. Corman Railroad Company LLC rumble past the sprawling Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville. The ritual is one she has followed religiously since moving to the facility a decade ago.
    The 86-year-old Arcanum native has made the same wish - an opportunity to ride aboard the train - each time the lonesome whistle sounded.
    She learned Friday morning that wishes do come true, thanks to the Brethren activities department and R.J. Corman officials. Together, they gave her the opportunity to ride the rails aboard the familiar red locomotive she has watched from the window.
    With a warm jacket securely buttoned in front and a blue bandana tied securely under her chin, Pease eagerly took a seat by the window. She was perfectly content to let Clark Rasneor of St. Marys, Corman's assistant division manager, and conductor David Phillips of Celina handle railroad duties on the 11'2 -hour round trip from Greenville to Ansonia.
    Tears welled in her eyes and her once broad smile disappeared momentarily. "I hope you men don't mind if I cry," she said in a voice quivering with emotion.
    "It was really touching because Ruby had wanted a train ride for so long and now her dream was coming true," Rasneor said. "A few tears and then she thoroughly enjoyed the scenery."
    Pease had hoped to see some deer along the way and was not disappointed. A trio of  graceful animals crossed the tracks en route back to Greenville. She also marveled at the green grass and the buckeye trees in full bloom.
    There was only one hitch which she learned about later. The Ansonia Fire Department was waiting downtown to welcome her with the wail of sirens. However, the train only went to the edge of the Darke County community.
    "Oh my, the time went much too fast," she admitted with a sigh. "Time never stands still when you are having fun. I would have made the trip all over again without a single complaint."
    Pease completed her train experience by having lunch with Rasneor and Phillips at the retirement community. They gave her a keepsake - a calendar bearing a photograph of the red locomotive.
    The Brethren activities department sponsored a make-a-wish program earlier this year, encouraging residents to share their fondest wish- within reason of course.
    "Most of the folks here wished for apple or cherry pies," Pease said with a chuckle. "I was thinking of only one thing and it surely wasn't food."
      Brethren Activities Supervisor Darlene Boone immediately labeled the train ride request "doable."
    "The tracks run right behind our facility and I figured the worst the railroad people could do was tell us no," Boone said. "That didn't happen. They  were wonderful and provided Ruby with an experience she will never forget."
    Pease initially wondered whether she could climb up the steep steps of the locomotive. Roy Yoder, a maintenance employee at the retirement community, solved the dilemma by building a special platform atop a forklift. He also accompanied her on the ride.
    "I was worried about getting up the steps," she said. "These replacement knee joints don't climb too well."
    The latest ride is the second she has taken in the course of a lifetime. Harold Pease once took his fiance and another couple to Dayton more than five decades ago. They boarded a passenger train bound for Detroit, Mich., and toured the city by taxi before catching a return train.
    "I watched people get on trains in later years and longed to join them but going alone is no fun," she said. "I've been on airplanes, but nothing can compare with a train."
    Brethren's first make-a-wish event was held four to five years ago, according to Boone. This time the wishes also were posted with employees, families and Greenville area residents selecting ones to fulfill. Trips to local restaurants, fruit pies, thick milkshakes and books by favorite authors topped the list of requests.
    The staff still has one wish in the works. One resident wants to ride in old WACO plane like the ones built years ago in Miami County. The momentous occasion is expected to take place this summer.
    "We granted more than 80 wishes this time around," Boone said. "We had to arrange suitable alternatives for several residents but they had no complaints."
    Three residents requested world peace. The chaplain at the retirement community stepped forward to conduct a worship service. One woman asked for a trip to Hawaii but settled for a Hawaiian luau with leis and island music. Another woman wanted the opportunity to give staff members and fellow residents a rainbow. A chef at the facility granted her wish a hundredfold with colorful rainbow cookies.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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The Standard Printing Company
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